Black Excellence

32nd Franklin D Roosevelt 1933-1945 Democratic

  • There are mixed thoughts on Franklin D Roosevelt. On one hand he was sympathetic to African Americans and on the other hand he had to work with a Southern congress base to get his legislation (New Deal) approved.
  • Aid provided by the New Deal was insufficient to blacks. He let local authorities and community leaders administer aid and they for the most part had a racial biases – one example is the National Housing Act of 1934 which lead to redlining
  • First lady was a strong supporter of anti lynching, but FDR never supported it for fear of alienation white Democrat voters
  • Roosevelt appointed more African Americans to positions within his administration than his predecessors
  • First President to appoint an African American as a federal judge
  • Formed a “Black Cabinet” of African American advisers to advise on race relations
  • Signed the Wagner Act -this establish the legal rights of most workers  to organize or join labour unions. This allowed blacks to organize and do away with some Jim Crow initiatives that were in place
  • In 1936, more that 70 percent of African Americans voted
  • New deal is riddled with problems such as the National Relations Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act. These exclude domestic workers and agricultural workers. Most Blacks in the South worked these jobs. These were compromises for white southerns to get the new deal passed  
  • The President’s order stated that the federal government would not hire any person based on their race, color, creed, or national origin. Millions of African Americans and women achieved better jobs and better pay as a result
  • In 1941, Roosevelt created The Fair Employment Practice Committee “banning discriminatory employment practices by Federal agencies and all unions and companies engaged in war related work. This was intended to help African Americans and other minorities obtain jobs during WW2

As Progressive as FDR was, he could never fully commit to Blacks in the United States. His administration appeared to play the line of letting Blacks know he cared without upsetting his base in the South.

Overall, FDR’s New Deal policies had a lot of flaws like helping to spread Jim crow in the north with redlinning, but with the help of his amazing wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, they  did more for Blacks than previous administrations did in a long time. 


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